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2003-07-11 - 6:12 p.m.

Down Argentine Way, Part III

Yes, I know Argentina isn't an island. I just liked the color blue.

Travel Time:
Salta to Posadas = 23 hours
Posadas to San Ignacio Mini = 1 hour
San Ignacio Mini to Puerto Esperanza = 4 hours
Puerto Esperanza to Iguazu Falls = 2 hours

From my paper journal: I am in San Ignacio, a small town in the north of Argentina, and I don't understand why it's so hot here. Isn't it supposed to be autumn? This town is dry and dusty and I might as well be in Austin in June, a familiar feeling, I suppose, but one that will soon feel oppressive if we try to look at the ruins today. Melch would sleep all day long if I let him - I'm trying to remember if he slept this much before.

We did make it out to the missions, crumbling ruins with a small museum, full of the strange surreal exhibits that small museums pride themselves on. Here are the missionaries:

After the ruins, we stumbled into a pool table while looking for a real pool (I wanted to go swimming). So we played pool - the first time we had played pool together, and the third time I had played pool, ever. Melch won.

So the only real big fight that Melch and I ever got into while traveling together was while we were waiting for the overnight bus from Trujillo to Lima back in December. I had become convinced that we were going to miss the bus, despite the fact that we were at the bus station - that our checked bags would make it to Lima while we sat in the bus station, trying to decipher garbled announcements in Spanish over the loudspeaker. We didn't miss the bus, of course we didn't miss the bus, but I've always had that fear - missing forms of transportation for stupid reasons. So the day after we saw the missions, we decided to catch the 10:30 bus to Puerto Esperanza. The bus station was across the street from the hostel - we had walked past it at least a dozen times, never realizing it was the bus station. But that morning, it was full of people, sitting and waiting, and warily staring at the backpacking intruders. We put our packs down and waited with everyone else - at 10:22 am, a bus pulled up. No one moved a muscle. The bus stopped just long enough for us to begin to lift our backpacks onto our shoulders when it took off again. It was our bus, all right. We played cards til the next bus came - and laughed that my fear of missing the bus while actually at the bus station had finally come true.

From my paper journal: And then we made it to Puerto Esperanza, finally, and a cab whisked us away to our Swiss-owned hotel outside of town, with a pool and air conditioning and a pool table and breakfast included - all for five dollars a night. I felt like a grown up on vacation, and not some grungy backpacker. The next day, we went to see the mines in a town called Wanda, brightly colored geometric prisms incongruously placed among gray and brown rocks.

Because we liked where we were staying, we decided not to pack up all of our stuff just to stay in an overpriced hotel close to Iguazu Falls. Instead, we took the bus to the bus station in Puerto Iguazu, where we split up for the day: me to see the falls, and Melch to Ciudad del Este across the border in Paraguay to buy a new camera. The falls were amazing because that is what they are supposed to be. When you go to Argentina, you go to Iguazu Falls, and you are amazed. The park is huge, with labyrinthine paths that take you through the dense jungle until - bam - there they are. The Falls.

And then there they are again.

And again.

There were rainbows.

And there were butterflies, swarms of them, everywhere you went.

You can tell when I'm traveling by myself, because I'm in all my pictures.

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